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Opening date for new Blackwell Jewellers branch in former Cornell & Sons in Maidstone

A jeweller has revealed the opening date for his new town centre branch.

Owner of Blackwell Jewellers, James Marsh snapped up the building in Gabriel's Hill, Maidstone, which was home to Cornell & Sons for 225 years, after its owners decided to retire.

He said: "We did not want to change it too much. I wanted to keep the traditional Cornell jewellers feel but have the Blackwell's modern twist to it.

"I am really looking forward to it. It was not something I was planning.

"I was looking to buy a premises to let out so the actual building came up and the fact it had a jewellers at the bottom was a plus.

"It would have been a shame to see that building just shut down and have a vape shop or similar go in there. The jewellers is part of the heritage of the town.

"The fact we are also a manufacturing jewellers, we are hopefully going to take the shop further."

Cornell jewellers closed after 225 years
Cornell jewellers closed after 225 years
There were huge queues when Cornell & Sons closed.
There were huge queues when Cornell & Sons closed.

Since taking over the Grade II-listed building, between Atilla kebab house and Gem Antiques, Mr Marsh has put in new carpets and is giving the shop a fresh lick of paint.

But he otherwise plans to keep the rest of the building as it was.

There will be a workshop at the bottom of the shop too so his team can make and repair pieces on site.

Two staff members will also be kept on so there will be some familiar faces for returning customers.

Learning the trade as an apprentice when he was 16, he spent years training in the traditional methods of jewellery making before opening his own business.

The 48-year-old already has two branches in the High Street, Gravesend, and Broadway, Bexleyheath – and this new investment will be his third shop.

"I probably will not open another shop after this one," Mr Marsh added. "I was not intending to open this one. The fact I own the building was a big plus as I know I will make it work.

The store in Maidstone will be its third branch
The store in Maidstone will be its third branch
James Marsh says he wants to keep the shop a jewellers as it is part of the town's heritage
James Marsh says he wants to keep the shop a jewellers as it is part of the town's heritage

"I do not want to keep opening stores because I think when you get to a certain amount you lose that personal touch. I do not want that.

"I want people to see me and the team. I do not want to get to a point where I thin myself out and loose that.

"I want to re-assure people I am a trusted jeweller. It is my life. We are experts in that field."

Blackwells offers a variety of services including bespoke, handmade accessories, repairs, hallmark creations, including making gold accents for designer clothes and shoes, and a cash for gold scheme.

The new store in Maidstone will be opening on March 4 and is running acompetition ahead of time for customers to win a bespoke, handmade £2,500 piece of jewellery.

Cornell's, which opened in 1796, shut after owners Andrew Putley and Stewart Cook decided to retire, and the landlord put the iconic landmark on the market for £500,000.

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